[[caption-width-right:350:And neither will you [[NoHoldsBarredBeatdown by the time we're done]], union-man...]]

->''"We Never Sleep."''
-->-- '''Motto of the Pinkertons'''

An agent of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, "Pinkertons" for short, "Pinks" to their enemies. Not to be confused with the album Music/{{Pinkerton}}, [[DirtyCommunists Pinkos]] or [[Webcomic/TheDreadful Pinkies]].

Founded in the 1850s by Allan Pinkerton, the Pinkertons were often hired by corporations such as the railroad companies to investigate crimes against them and the activities of labor movements. Made famous by their protection of UsefulNotes/AbrahamLincoln from an assassination attempt prior to his taking the oath of office. In the 1870s, they added government work to their portfolio, as the Department of Justice didn't have the infrastructure to do massive investigations on its own. (This work dried up in 1893 with the passage of the "Anti-Pinkerton Act", which prevented the US government from directly hiring Pinkerton agents.)

In addition to their notorious and much-reviled strikebreaking work, the Pinkertons were also active in chasing down outlaws who'd pulled {{train job}}s or major [[BankRobbery bank robberies]]. And if you were wealthy enough, you could hire them for regular detective work as well. The Pinks were well known for [[JudgeJuryAndExecutioner brutality and ruthlessness]] in their methods; in fiction, even when they're pursuing more laudable goals, this tends to give an unfavorable color to their portrayal.

It's believed the phrase "private eye" comes from the Pinkerton Agency's symbol, an open eye (which rather hilariously came to look like the Creator/{{CBS}} eye in later years). Creator/DashiellHammett was a former Pinkerton agent, and used his experience to inform his stories.

After the 1930s, the Pinkerton Agency largely concerned itself with security services. They were bought and merged with a [[UsefulNotes/{{Sweden}} Swedish]] security company called Securitas AB, they're now known as Securitas Security Services USA, Inc. Poetically, Securitas is now the subject of unionization attempts.

Compare and contrast with PrivateMilitaryContractors. [[HilariousInHindsight Hilariously unrelated to]] RealMenWearPink.
!!Examples of Pinkerton detectives in fiction:


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* The Pinkertons appear as villains in the [[{{Cancellation}} short-lived]], [[OELManga Original English-language manga]] ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Man%27s_Land_%28manga%29 No Man's Land]]'' by Jason [=DeAngelis=]. [[WeirdWest They try to harness the power of]] LegionsOfHell.
* In the spinoff arc of ''Manga/GunkaNoBaltzar'', a CounterpartCulture detective agency is used to supress a strike.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* A ComicBook story of Droopy (the dog) had him as a Pinkerton agent relentlessly and ruthlessly protecting a carpetbag of gold from a thief.
* In the {{Elseworlds}} comic ''Justice Riders'' (The Franchise/{{Justice League|of America}} [[RecycledINSPACE in the Old West]]) Guy Gardner appears as a Pinkerton agent.
* ''ComicBook/LuckyLuke'':
** In the book "Jesse James", two bumbling Pinkerton detectives appear. Might be a ShoutOut to [[Franchise/{{Tintin}} two other bumbling detectives]] from FrancoBelgianComics. They travel incognito, oblivious to the SigilSpam that betrays them.
** In a post-Morris album of the series, Lucky Luke finds himself going against Allan Pinkerton himself.
* Pinkertons have appeared frequently (usually as antagonists) in ''ComicBook/JonahHex''.
* Caleb Hammer, a Western character in the MarvelUniverse.
* They sometime show up in ''ComicBook/TexWiller''. Being this a western comic book set before the start of the unions, they only show up chasing major criminals or doing investigative work. The agency is also noted to have some ethics, as they'll fire with prejudice any agent caught doing something illegal (as freeing a criminal after being bribed), and if asked about them will quickly denounce whatever they're doing now.
** At the start of the "Death Cell" storyline Tex is framed for murder and it's mentioned they've been contacted to help find information to prove his innocence and catch the culprit before he and his accomplice can start an Indian war and have the Navajos evicted from their reserve. By the end of the storyline Tex and his pards have identified the culprit and found enough evidence to convict him and prove Tex' innocence on their own... And the Pinks reveal they have identified ''every single other member of the organization and provided enough evidence to arrest them'', [[OffscreenMomentOfAwesome without even appearing on-page until one of their agents shows up to reveal what they've done in the meantime]].

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* The 1970 film ''Film/TheMollyMaguires'' recounts the real-life story of Pinkerton detective James [=McParlan=], alias [=McKenna=], played by Creator/RichardHarris, as he infiltrates a gang of railroad saboteurs led by Creator/SeanConnery as Black Jack Kehoe.
* The 2005 movie ''Film/TheLegendOfZorro'' has Pinkerton agents extorting the wife of Franchise/{{Zorro}} to help them investigate a secret society trying to prevent the 1850 admission of California to the Union. Rather anachronistically, since the Pinkertons weren't formed until after that event.
* As the Pinkertons pursued Jesse James in RealLife, they're often mentioned or seen in movies about him.
* They pursue ''Film/ButchCassidyAndTheSundanceKid'' to Bolivia (both in real life and in the film.)
* Spicer Lovejoy, Cal Hockley's valet in ''Film/{{Titanic 1997}}'' was a former Pinkerton.
* In an early scene of the 1992 movie ''Hoffa'', corporate-hired Pinkerton personnel assault early 20th century union organizers.
* The Hollywood western ''Film/ThreeTenToYuma1957'' and [[Film/ThreeTenToYuma2007 its 2007 remake]] feature Pinkerton agents escorting an armed stagecoach filled with bank notes through Arizona. Pinkerton agents are seen throughout the 2007 version, and it's worth noting that in the remake the main Pinkerton is both a badass and deeply unpleasant character.
* A couple of Pinkerton's Detectives pursue the eponymous characters in ''Film/BadGirls''. They never catch up with them.
* In ''Film/MurderOnTheOrientExpress1974'', [[spoiler:Cyrus Hardman]] is a Pinkerton agent. (In the original novel, he worked for the fictional [=McNeil=] Detective Agency.)
* The Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency (also a real company historically) engaged in similar strikebreaking actions in the [[VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory semi-historical]] film ''Film/{{Matewan}}''.

* ''Literature/TheValleyOfFear'', a Literature/SherlockHolmes story, features a PinkertonDetective infiltrating a gang of terrorist "Scowrers" (a fictional offshoot of the Freemasons, and who were based on the RealLife Molly Maguires.)
** A Pinkerton named Leverton (described by Holmes as the "hero" of the "Long Island cave mystery") teams up with Holmes in ''The Adventure of the Red Circle''.
* ''Literature/TheOutlawJoseyWales'' includes a brief chapter wherein a Texas Ranger and a Pinkerton Detective team up to search for Josey Wales.
* Pinkerton toughs occasionally appear as secondary characters throughout Creator/HarryTurtledove's series of ''Great War'' and ''American Empire'' AlternateHistory novels. As the USA in those novels is much more "Europeanized" than ours, with a strong Socialist movement, they ultimately end up being defeated by the organised strikers and unions.
* Felix Leiter in the ''Literature/JamesBond'' novels became a Pinkerton detective after being medically discharged from the CIA, for the rather good reason of losing a hand and a leg in ''Literature/LiveAndLetDie''.
* PK Pinkerton in ''Literature/TheWesternMysteries'' believes that he is a relative of the founder of the Pinkerton Detectives. His aspiration is to become a PinkertonDetective.
* [[spoiler:Cyrus Hartman]] in ''Literature/MurderOnTheOrientExpress'' is an employee of the [=McNeil=] Detective Agency, a fictional counterpart of the Pinkertons.
* Sebastian Becker, the protagonist of a detective series by Stephen Gallagher, is an ex-Pinkerton.
* In ''The Coronation'' and the novella ''Dream Valley'', it is mentioned that Literature/ErastFandorin worked for the Pinkertons during his stay in the US (though mostly as a freelancer rather than a full agent).
* The protagonist of Creator/AnthonyHorowitz's Franchise/SherlockHolmes story, ''Literature/{{Moriarty}}'', is Detective Chase; a Pinkerton agent seeking to track down an American Crime-boss before he can replace Moriarty after his fall from the falls.
* Creator/CliveCussler's character Isaac Bell is an investigator for the Van Dorn Detective Agency, a fictional organization modeled after the Pinkertons.
* In Jordan L. Hawk's gay supernatural detective series ''Whyborne & Griffin'', Griffin is an ex-Pinkerton, and his first encounter with the polymath Percival Whyborne relates directly to a terrifying ordeal he'd experienced while he was working with them. Later adventures often return to individuals or events from Griffin's Pinkerton past.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* In the HBO series ''Series/{{Deadwood}}'', the Pinkerton Agency and its agents are occasionally referred to by several of the show's characters, often ominously or with contempt. Even ''Al Swearengren'' thinks they're [[EvenEvilHasStandards below his admittedly low moral standards!]] Miss Isringhausen, Sofia's tutor from the show's second season, is eventually revealed to be an agent of the group.
* Pinkertons appear a few times in the TV show ''Series/TheAdventuresOfBriscoCountyJr.''
* One of the main characters of the short lived series ''{{Peacemakers}}'' (basically ''Series/{{CSI}}'' [[RecycledINSPACE IN THE OLD WEST!]]) was a former Pinkerton agent. One episode also featured a legendary Pinkerton agent gone rogue as the perp.
* In Book Two of ''[[Series/NorthAndSouthUS North and South]]'', Orry Main enlists an ace Pinkerton detective to find his stray wife. Eventually, the gumshoe chafes at what is becoming a full-time assignment.
* "The Ten Li'l Grifters Job," an episode of ''Series/{{Leverage}}'', featured the team infiltrating a murder mystery costume party and had Eliot costumed as Charlie Siringo, a real-life Pinkerton agent. Given his history as a retrieval specialist, bodyguard, occasional government operative, and mercenary who now helps take down the CorruptCorporateExecutive of the week (at least one of whom he worked ''for'' in the past), the comparison is appropriate.
* Pinkerton agents figure in an episode of ''Series/{{Copper}}''. They are not portrayed in a positive light.
* On the ''Series/ElleryQueen'' episode "The Adventure of the Mad Tea Party", the victim's butler is an undercover Pinkerton, which doesn't stop him from being a [[TheButlerDidIt suspect]].
* In ''Series/BoardwalkEmpire'' Season 4, the Pinkerton Detectives are revealed to have been hired to [[spoiler: investigate the suspicious death of Jimmy Darmody, to which end one of their agents seduces Gillian and manipulates her into confessing to the murder of the random young man whose corpse she passed off as Jimmy's to get him declared legally dead]].
* ''Series/ThePinkertons'' naturally centers around these, featuring their founder Allan Pinkerton in the pilot, while one of the main characters is his son William. Incidentally the actor playing Pinkerton, Angus [=MacFadyen=], [[ActorSharedBackground has the same background as his character]], both having been born in UsefulNotes/{{Glasgow}}, UsefulNotes/{{Scotland}}.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Deadlands}}'', the Pinkertons are the original [[TheMenInBlack Men in Black]] organisation, eventually becoming the Agency.
* Not actual Pinkertons in ''TabletopGame/RocketAge'', but the Wolfgang & Long Detective Agency shares similarities with them, running investigations across the solar system for nations who can't readily reach criminals.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In the computer game ''VideoGame/PostMortem'', the player-character Gus [=McPherson=] is mentioned as being a former member of Pinkerton, and depending on the player's actions, sends telegraphs to the agency for research.
* Pinkerton Agents appear as skilled shooters armed with six-shot carbines in the ''[[Videogame/EighteenSixtySixAMountAndBladeWestern 1866]]'' Western-themed mod for ''VideoGame/MountAndBlade''.
* Booker [=DeWitt=], the protagonist of ''VideoGame/BioshockInfinite'', is a former Pinkerton Agent who was apparently expelled from the organization due to "[[EvenEvilHasStandards behavior beyond the acceptable bounds of the Agency]]".

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In ''Webcomic/HighMoon'', a [[OurWerewolvesAreDifferent werewolf]] {{Western}} webcomic series by David Gallaher and Steve Ellis, the protagonist Matthew 'Mac' Macgreor is a Pinkerton detective.
* ''Webcomic/TheDreadful''[='=]s universe has the [[{{Expy}} Jackson Detective Agency]] standing in for the Pinks.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The security goons in ''WesternAnimation/ProjectGeeker'' are all named "Pinkers," a likely reference to the Pinkertons.
* ''WesternAnimation/InchHighPrivateEye'' works at the "Finkerton" Detective Agency, an obvious pun on "Pinkerton". His boss constantly threatens to fire him.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Creator/DashiellHammett, author of ''Literature/RedHarvest'', ''Literature/TheThinMan'', and ''Literature/TheMalteseFalcon'', was a Pinkerton detective. His experience working for the Pinkertons led him to [[DefectorFromDecadence develop communist sympathies]], eventually getting involved in left-wing politics full-time later in life.